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A Caged Bird

Freedom awaits outside the cage

By Ali SPPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - March 2024
Acrylic Painting by author

Even on my best days, when I try to write, my brain speaks to me in a lexicon I fail to understand. The words of a story remain trapped, and I cannot direct them to the blank white page before me as I sit in this park. I watch a mother hug her little girl. Her arms wrapped around her like wings of protection, soft and warm like feathers. Her daughter's tiny face pressed against her heart. Then I remember you, sad, lonely, hurt, misunderstood. I knew you wanted to, one day, stretch your wings wide beneath the sun's warmth; you yearned to take flight. There were no limits. You would reach for the sky, breaking through the walls of that suffocating cage.

I question my desire to write this, to jot down these haunting words. However, I need to write it for a little girl who had no idea that this version of herself wished she could return and hold her tight. After staring at the empty page for a few minutes, I fill it with lines and odd shapes. I finally lift my head from my book and notice you beside me. Just when I thought I had no words, before I could think, they came pouring out.

I have loved you for over three decades, even before I knew what it meant to love. I can see that you're avoiding my gaze. Even when you look away, the sunlight illuminates your face, highlighting your beautiful brown skin. It is beckoning you to embrace the stunning goddess you are, even though you shy away from its light. All I see is emptiness when I stare into your eyes. You didn't understand what you were searching for, what your mind, heart and body craved—a human being trying to catch her breath when life was slowly oozing out. I understand now that you needed to spend some time in that space. You saw the world as it was, and that helped you plan your escape.

I never left you. You may have felt alone at times, but I promise I was there. If only you knew then that I was always inside of you. I remember every route we took. Some took us across the ocean. We journeyed to different states, earned degrees and made wonderful friends. The relationship you needed to work on the most was with yourself.

A bird flies past me, hopping from branch to branch, serenading us with its song. For a few seconds, my face lights up, and I quickly turn my attention back to you. I fail to imagine life if you had not grown to know love and, more importantly, to love yourself. You didn't know back then that life would get better. You didn't understand that one day, everyone would compliment you on your beautiful smile—a feature you never shared as a child. In every picture, you stared into the camera lens, lips tightly sealed, looking lost. They said you were shy, but something was missing inside.

One day, instead of accepting life as it was, you saw your reflection and decided that you wanted more. I was there when you broke that glass cage. Shattered glass is what you left behind. You didn't even look back. To the sky, you went; I watched a few feathers drop. They twirled in the wind before the ground became their final resting place —the old, making space for the new. Each feather ended a season of your life you wanted to leave behind. I stood proud, my chest puffed out like a proud mama bird.

You were finally on a path to freedom. I willed you to keep flying and to silence the voices that wanted you to return, reminding you of your weaknesses. You knew that you deserved more. For once, life had a purpose. Once the sun kissed your skin, its warmth jump-started your heart. You accepted who you were and beamed, even laughing out loud. You couldn't explain it, but you knew what it was when you felt it. It was love. It rose like champagne bubbles on your insides and made you a better version of yourself.


Thank you for reading!


About the Creator

Ali SP

Ali has found a renewed passion for reading and creating. It is now a form of expression for her– another creative outlet which she works to improve upon.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

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    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (12)

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  • Denise E Lindquist29 days ago

    Wow! Powerful! Congratulations on a well-deserved top story!!🎉🎉🎉

  • A. J. Schoenfeldabout a month ago

    So very beautiful. Thank you for taking me on this journey.

  • Joe O’Connorabout a month ago

    This feels cathartic, and tenderly loving. I love the bird imagery, and the idea of cages vs wings. Each feather ended a season of your life you wanted to leave behind. “I stood proud, my chest puffed out like a proud mama bird.”

  • Daphsamabout a month ago

    Congratulations on your top story, well deserve!

  • Anna about a month ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • sleepy draftsabout a month ago

    Oh, Ali, I've got tears. This is so beautiful, so deep, moving, and thoughtful. I felt every word. Congratulations on Top Story!! This is beautiful. 💗

  • Babs Iversonabout a month ago

    Brilliantly & beautifully written!!! Love it!!! Congratulations on Top Story!!!❤️❤️💕

  • Sandra Matosabout a month ago

    Wonderful writing. This captures my feelings when I watch one of my children realize their full potential for happiness. This was a beautiful read! Congratulations on Top Story!

  • C. Rommial Butler2 months ago

    Calls to mind this line for one of my favorite musicians: "You're just an empty cage, girl, if you kill the bird." -Tori Amos, Crucify Lovely sentiments and well-wrought! In the comment section of my CREATION MYTH this story goes, for here muses inspire muses to act of out of love of the Work itself, and you have a-mused me! I'm adding a story a day for Vocal eternity, and you touched my heart this morning! No small feat since I am only halfway through my first cup of coffee!

  • Tiffany Gordon 2 months ago

    My Lord this was otherworldly writing! So profound, exquisitely executed & gloriously beautiful! BRAVO Ali! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 👏🏾👏🏾. I can't wait to see what you create next!

  • Mariann Carroll2 months ago

    I am glad you wrote this. Every child need to be free to become the better version of themselves. 🥰

  • Test2 months ago

    It serves as a reminder that even in our darkest moments, there is always the potential for light and renewal. Thank you for sharing such a touching reflection.

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